HISTORY OF LAGOS
Carter Bridge, Lagos 1960
Prior to the Portuguese name of Lagos being adopted, Lagos was called Eko, which stems from either Oko (Yoruba: "cassava farm") or Eko ("war camp"), by its Bini conquerors.
Around 650 years ago the Oba of Bini sent trade expeditions to Ghana, where spices were traded, and one of his traders complained about the way she was being treated by the Awori people. The Oba of Bini then sent a trade expedition by sea which declined to engage the people and returned to what is now called Benin City where he reported to the Oba of Bini that they were attacked. This prompted the Oba of Bini to assemble a war expedition led by Ado, a Bini Prince. The expedition went to Lagos and demanded an explanation.
On getting there, they were well received. The people were so enamored with Ado they asked him to stay and lead them. He agreed on the condition that they surrendered their sovereignty to the Oba of Bini to which they agreed. The Oba of Bini was told this and he gave his permission for the expedition to remain. The Oba of Bini later sent some of his chiefs, including the Eletu Odibo, Obanikoro and others, to assist Ado in the running of Eko.
Till today, the Oba of Lagos is the head of all the Kings in Lagos State and his status is different from other Oba's most of whom were later given back their crowns and staff of office only within the last 40 years. Those who got their crowns back were the original land owners (Olofin's children). Modern-day Lagosians have so intermingled that no single tribe or people can claim it even though the predominant language is Yoruba.
The present day Lagos state has a higher percent of this sub-group who allegedly migrated to the area from Isheri along the Ogun river. History has it that the Awori were actually from Ife, the cradle of Yorubaland. The Awori people are a peaceful people initially not taken to warfare. Due to war, those from the hinterlands, like the Ekiti, ran towards Isheri, which at that time had more than one Olofin (Alafin)who were heads of settlements about 1400AD.
With the fleeing people from the hinterlands most of them scattered again, some to Iro, to Otta, Ado, others to Ebute Metta i.e. three landing places - Oyingbo, Iddo Island and Lagos Island (Eko). The Olofin that brought those who went to Ebute-Metta was Ogunfunminire later known as Agbodere. With the full commencement of the war about 2000 moved to the nearest island of Iddo, others to Otto Awori or Otto Ijanikin towards modern-day Badagry. Those from Ekiti Aramoko came to Ebute-Metta, Iddo and then Ijora.
After the demise of Agbodere, the name Olofin became the name used to remember him while a title of Oloto was given to his successor. With one of his sons becoming the Oloto his other children parted ways to what is known as visible settlements in present-day Lagos.
Until the coming of the Binis, Lagos's geographic boundary was Lagos Mainland. Lagos Island, the seat of the Oba of Lagos, then consisted of a pepper farm and fishing posts. No one lived there. The name Eko was given to it by its first king, Oba Ado, during its early history; it also saw periods of rule by the Kingdom of Benin.
Eko was the land area now known as Lagos Island where the king's palace was built. The palace is called Iga Idunganran, meaning "palace built on the pepper farm". Oba Ado and the warriors from Benin, as well as some of the indigenous people who sought safety, settled down in the southern part of Eko called "Isale Eko", Isale literarily meaning bottom, but must have been used to indicate downtown (as in Downtown Lagos).
Modern-day Lagos was founded by the Bini in the sixteenth century. It was later called Eko. The Portuguese explorer Ruy de Sequeira who visited the area in 1472, named the area around the city Lago de Curamo; the present name is Portuguese for "lakes". An alternate explanation is that Lagos was named for Lagos, Portugal - a maritime town which at the time was the main center of the Portuguese expeditions down the African coast and whose own name is derived from the Celtic word Lacobriga.
It was a major centre of the slave trade until 1851, when the United Kingdom, which had abolished slavery in 1807, captured the city. It was annexed as a British colony in 1861. The remainder of modern-day Nigeria was seized in 1886
When the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was established in 1914 Lagos was declared its capital. Lagos experienced rapid growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s as a result of Nigeria's economic boom prior to the Biafran War. This continued through the 1980s and 1990s up to the present date.
Lagos was the capital of Nigeria from 1914 - 1976 when the capital was moved to Abuja. Abuja is a capital like Washington, DC in USA and Brasilia in Brazil in that it was built from scratch specifically to be a capital.
In 1991, Ibrahim Babangida, the Military President and other government functions moved to the newly built capital. This was as a result of intelligence reports on the safety of his life and what was later to be termed his hidden agenda, which was the plan to turn himself into a civilian president. He finished what was started by the Murtala/Obasanjo regime. The change resulted in Lagos losing some prestige and economic leverage. However, it has retained its importance as the country's largest city and as an economic centre.